There are hundreds of different corals available to add to your reef tank and they can be broken down into a few main groups, one of which is LPS. LPS stands for Large Polyp Stony coral. These types of corals are characterized by their larger fleshy polyps that rest above stony bases. LPS coral contain a symbiotic photosynthetic algae called zooxanthalle that allow them to provide nutrients for themselves, but their diets can be supplemented with food and many hobbyists enjoy watching them eat. They are easy to feed as they typically exhibit rapid feeding responses and can be target fed. In addition to being easier to feed, their care requirements aren’t as intensive and they are more forgiving, making them a good choice for beginners. Common types of LPS coral include Micromussa lords (formerly classified as Acans), Trumpet corals, Euphyllia corals which include (Torch corals, Hammer corals, and Frogspawn), Bowerbanki, Bubble coral, Scolymia, Donut Corals, Goniopora, Alveopora, Galaxea, Brain coral, Blastos, Plate corals, and many more. As with most species of coral it is important to dip them before adding them to a reef tank. Additionally the corals should be handled with care and slowly drip acclimated to the tanks water parameters before being directly placed in the tank itself.
Acanthophyllia (Acanthophyllia sp.) are often found as centerpiece corals in reef aquariums. These large polyp stony corals have an intricate stony base and a large fleshy polyp that can be found in a variety of colors. They are native to the Pacific Ocean, Australia in particular. One of the reasons they are loved by hobbyists is because they are a rather hardy, and forgiving species once they have fully acclimated to a tank. When placing these LPS corals, make sure they are located where they will get moderate lighting and low flow. They contain a photosynthetic algae called zooxanthallae that help to provide them with nutrients, but they can be target fed when their tentacles are out. They prefer meaty foods like brine shrimp and krill, but will also eat commercially available powdered coral food. Use caution when dipping them and placing them in the tank so their stony skeleton does not damage their flesh. They should be acclimated slowly so they can get adjusted to the new systems lighting and water parameters.
Acanthastrea (Acanthastrea sp.)/ Micromussa (Micromussa Lordhowensis)LPS corals, formerly referred to as Acanthastrea or Acans, were reclassified and grouped together with the Micromussas corals. Now they are both taxonomically listed as Micromussa lordhowensis, though many hobbyists still refer to them as Acans. Even prior to their grouping, the two were very similar with only minor differences. They are easily propagated and as a result are available as an aquacultured coral, but they are native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Place them in an area where they will get moderate to high light and moderate flow. These encrusting corals are a hardy, quick growing, large polyp stony coral and should be given some space to grow. They have symbiotic zooxanthallae but they can be fed with a variety of small meaty foods, as well as with coral food. Wait to feed them until they have opened up and extended their tentacles. Micro Lords can be prone to bacterial infections, so make sure to keep an eye on them and always dip them before putting them into a reef tank. Acclimate them slowly and allow them to get used to their aquarium.
Alveopora (Alveopora sp.)sometimes called Flower Pot Coral or Alveopora Daisy Coral are a type of LPS coral. They look similar to the Goniopora however they can easily be differentiated by looking at the number of tentacles they have per polyp. Alveopora polyps have 12 tentacles instead of the 24 that are found on Goni’s. This large polyp stony coral is native to the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and is also available as an aquacultured species. They are a hardy coral and prefer to be placed in an area of the reef tank that receives moderate lighting and low flow. Use caution when placing them near other corals as they tend to be aggressive and will sting. They produce their own nutrients with the help of zooxanthallae, but their diet can be supplemented with coral food, phytoplankton, and zooplankton. Dipping these corals will help to reduce the introduction of pests into a tank. Make sure to acclimate them slowly, it may take time for them to adjust to the new tank’s water parameters and lighting.
Goniopora (Goniopora sp.)are a genus of corals that are often called Daisy Corals or Flower Pot Corals. While they look very similar to the Alveopora sp., Goni’s have polyps which each contain 24 tentacles while the Alveopora sp. only have 12. These LPS (Large Polyp Stony) corals are native to the Central Pacific Ocean and are also a genus that is aquacultured. Place them in a reef tank where they will get moderate to high lighting and moderate to high flow, but where they are away from other corals as they will sting. These corals can be difficult to keep and are not recommended for beginners, but if you like the look of them, consider adding the slightly easier to care for, Alveopora sp. instead. Like many other species of LPS,Goniopora sp. have symbiotic zooxanthallae which provide them with a food source, however their diets can be supplemented with coral foods, phytoplankton, and zooplankton. Consider dipping the coral prior to adding them to a system to reduce the risk of unwanted pests. When acclimating them, it should be done slowly, allowing for the coral to adjust to its new tank.
Blastomussa (Blastomussa sp.), sometimes referred to as Brain coral is a large polyp stony coral that is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Oftentimes they are said to resemble mushrooms from a distance. Place them in an area of the reef tank that will get low to moderate light and moderate water flow. This is a relatively peaceful LPS coral that will do well once established in a tank. They have symbiotic photosynthetic algae which provide them with nutrients, but they can also be target fed using coral food, or a blend of small meaty foods. Prior to adding a Blasto to a tank, make sure to dip it to keep unwanted pests from entering a tank. Acclimating the coral slowly is an important step in the process of helping it to become adjusted to its new lighting and water parameters.
Elegance (Catalaphyllia jardinei) are a type of LPS coral that are also known as Ridge Coral, Elegant Coral, or Wonder Coral, instead of being referred to by their scientific names. They are native to the Pacific Ocean, specifically around Australia. Place them in an area of the tank where they will get moderate lighting, and low to moderate water flow. Thanks to the help of photosynthetic algae they are able to produce most of their nutrients, but they will accept chopped up meaty foods in addition to the less messy to prepare, powdered coral foods. Use caution when handling Elegance corals and when placing them in a reef tank as they can sting, both the hands holding them and other corals. Like some species of large polyp stony coral they will expand in size so consider that as well. Dip them prior to adding them to any reef or marine tank, and make sure to acclimate them slowly so they can get adjusted to their new surroundings.
Cynarina (Cynarina sp.)are a type of large polyp stony coral that are characterized by a stony base covered with fleshy lobes and a centrally located mouth. These LPS coral are sometimes called Meat Coral, Donut Coral, Knob Coral, Tooth Coral, and Cat’s Eye Coral. In the wild they can be found thriving in Indo-Pacific waters. When considering the placement in a reef tank they should be situated in an area that gets moderate lighting and low water flow. Much like the similar looking Scolymia sp. corals, Cynarina can expand to double their size and should be given some extra space where they are placed. Although they have photosynthetic zooxanthallae to help nourish them, they can be fed a diet of small meaty food, or formulated coral food. The best way to reduce the risk of introducing pests into a tank is by dipping it before putting it in any new reef. As all corals are sensitive, they should be acclimated slowly, giving them time to get used to their new saltwater home.
Chalice (Echinophyllia sp., Echinopora sp., Lithophyllon sp., Mycedium sp., and Oxypora sp.) corals are a group of large polyp stony cup corals that are composed of several different genus. These uniquely textured and colorful corals are native to the Indo-Pacific, but aquacultured specimens are also available. Place them in an area of the tank where they will get moderate lighting and moderate flow. Like many species of LPS, Chalice's have stinging tentacles that come out at night, so make sure to leave some space between them and neighboring corals. While they rely on their zooxanthallae to provide them with food, they will eat a variety of foods, from formulated coral foods, to pellets, and even small meaty foods used to feed fish in the reef. Prior to adding them make sure they are dipped and then slowly acclimated to their new environments.
Favia (Favia sp.) have many common names- Honeycomb Coral, Moon Coral, Pineapple Coral, Brain Coral, Closed Brain Coral, and Star Coral-, which is understandable as they are one of the more diverse groups of large stony polyp corals. While they are native to the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Ocean, they are also available as an aquacultured species. They are easy to care for and prefer to be placed in an area of the reef tank that has both moderate light and flow. This LPS coral has stinging sweeper tentacles and is aggressive, so make sure to give it lots of space. Thanks to symbiotic zooxanthallae they can produce their own nutrients, but they could be fed phytoplankton and brine shrimp up to twice per week. If feeding, wait until the evening when their tentacles are extended. As with many corals Favia sp. should be dipped before they are added to a reef system. Acclimate them slowly allowing them to adjust to the water parameters and lighting in their new tank.
Fungia (Fungia sp.) also known as Plate Corals are a type of large polyp stony coral that can be found with both long and short tentacles. They are native to the Indo-Pacific and come in a variety of different colors like green, orange, and purple. This LPS coral should be placed in an area with low to moderate lighting and flow. Both types- short and long tentacled- are able to sting other corals, so keep that in mind when placing them. They are able to produce their own nutrients with the help of symbiotic zooxanthallae but their diets should be supplemented a few times a week. With their centrally located mouth they are easy to feed and will eat a variety of foods including, phytoplankton, small bits of meaty foods, and formulated coral food. Once established, as long as the water parameters are correct, these disc corals should be fairly hardy. Make sure to dip these before adding to any tank, as their bases can sometimes harbor pests. During the acclimation process, handle them with caution and acclimate them slowly.
Galaxea (Galaxea sp.)corals are known by many names- Tooth Coral, Galaxy Coral, Starburst Coral, Crystal Coral, Star Coral, and Brittle Coral. This LPS species has a wide stony base with corallites that extend above the base. These large polyp stony corals are native to the Indo-Pacific ocean and are also available as an aquacultured species. Placement in the reef should be in an area where they will get moderate to high lighting and moderate water flow. They contain stinging tentacles that extend at night and need to be placed where there will be space between them and other corals. Symbiotic zooxanthallae help to provide their nutrients, but they will eat a variety of food including phytoplankton, formulated coral food, as well as smaller meaty foods like brine. It is important to dip corals prior to adding them to a new tank to reduce the risk of introducing pests. They can be sensitive to water quality, so acclimate them slowly, giving them time to adjust to lighting and tank water parameters.
Lobophyllia (Lobophyllia sp.) are a large polyp stony coral that also go by the names Meat Coral, Lobed Coral, Carpet Coral, Large Flower Coral, Colored Coral, and Open Brain Coral. These LPS corals with their large fleshy polpys are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. When placing them in a reef tank, they need to be in an area that gets moderate to high light and moderate water flow. These corals do have stinging tentacles that stretch out at night and are fairly aggressive so make sure to leave some space between them and neighboring corals. When it comes to their diet they are able to produce their own food thanks to the help of zooxanthallae, but they can be fed small meaty foods, and formulated coral foods when they open up. It is important to dip corals before adding them to a reef tank, this will reduce the risk of introducing pests. Also important, is making sure to acclimate the Lobophyllia slowly letting it get adjusted to the tank’s water parameters and light.
Platygyra (Platygyra sp.)which are also called Brain Corals, Bowl Coral Maze Corals, and Closed Brain Corals are a type of large polyp stony coral that are native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These LPS corals are a type of encrusting coral which are fairly hardy and good for those just getting into reef keeping. Place them in an area of the tank that gets both moderate lighting and water flow. They are a slightly aggressive species that has stinging sweeper tentacles so they should be placed away from other corals to reduce the risk of injury. While they are sustained by their symbiotic zooxanthallae, they can be fed brine shrimp, phytoplankton, or a properly formulated coral food blend. When they are dipped they may produce a significant amount of mucus, but that is natural. Slowly acclimate them to their new reef system, being mindful it may take them time to adjust to the water parameters and the lighting.
Plerogyra (Plerogyra sp.), also known as Bubble Corals are a type of large polyp stony corals that consist of a hard stony base and grape sized bubble flesh. They are native to the Indo-Pacific, but they are also available as an aquacultured specimen. When it comes to placement in a reef tank, these LPS corals should be situated in an area with moderate lighting and low to moderate flow. As they have stinging tentacles that come out at night, make sure to leave enough space between them and other species. They are a hardy and easy to care for coral. While they contain zooxanthallae that provide nutrients for them, they enjoy many types of food from phyto and zooplankton, to brine shrimp and other small meaty foods. Additionally, they will also benefit from formulated coral foods. Use caution when handling them during dipping and placing them in the aquarium. Make sure to acclimate them slowly and give them time to adjust to their new environment.
Scolymia (Homophyllia australis) are beautiful disk shaped LPS corals that come in a variety of vibrant and neon colors. Sometimes called Disk Coral, Scolys, and Donut Coral, they are native to Australian waters. Place them in an area of the tank where they will have moderate flow and lighting and also where they will have some extra space as their flesh is able to expand, nearly doubling its size. Once established they are hardy corals and while nutrients are provided to them from their photosynthetic zooxanthallae, their diet can be supplemented with formulated coral food, or small bits of meat fed directly to them when their feeding tentacles are extended. As their stony plates can provide a home to unwanted pests, it’s important to dip them before adding them to any reef tank. These large polyp stony corals should be acclimated slowly to their new tank, keeping in mind they may take some time to fully adjust to their new environment.